Degree completed in 2016.

Wildfire under a changing climate in the Bolivian Chiquitania: a social-ecological systems analysis


Academic Profile

I am a doctoral student in the Ecosystem Science Lab at the School of Geography and the Environment. My research interest is in understanding social-ecological dynamics at the landscape level to maintain or enhance adaptive capacity in periods of rapid change. While doing my DPhil, I am also a Research Fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI Oxford), which I joined in 2008. At SEI my research focuses on climate change adaptation, particularly on social-ecological system dynamics, adaptive governance, and ecosystem-based adaptation in developing nations.

Before joining SEI, I worked for the World Bank, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and World Vision. I was Lead Author for the Land Chapter of the Global Environment Outlook 5 (GEO-5) in 2012, and Science Writer for the UNEP Year Book in 2011 and in 2009. I was also contributing author for the UNDP Human Development Report Bolivia in 2008.

I have a two-year MSc (Hons) in Environmental Science, Policy and Management jointly awarded by the IIIEE-Lund University, Sweden, Central European University, Hungary, and the University of Manchester, UK (EC Erasmus Mundus Scholarship). In 2008, I was awarded the Development Cooperation Prize by the Belgian Government for my Master thesis research in Borneo, Malaysia, on the sustainability of oil palm production.

Current Research

For my DPhil research I am focusing on increased risk of wildfires in a tropical frontier landscape of southern Amazonia (Chiquitania region in Bolivia) and analysing different adaptation strategies to prevent potential impacts on forests and local livelihoods. To adopt a systems approach and assess the fire-climate-society nexus, I am using mixed methods and looking at the interactions between land use and land cover change, climate change, and different fire management strategies. Methods include probabilistic spatial modelling, fuzzy cognitive mapping, ethnographic field methods, and statistical analysis of tree inventories in burnt forest plots combined with remote sensing. For the research I am collaborating with local partners in Bolivia (FCBC, FAN, MNKM).


  • 2011-14 | Osmaston Scholarship for the DPhil studies awarded by St Cross college, University of Oxford.
  • 2008 | Development Cooperation Prize for the MSc thesis research awarded by the Belgian Secretary of State for Development Cooperation.
  • 2005-07 | Erasmus Mundus Scholarship covering the 2-year MSc MESPOM program awarded by the European Commission.
  • 2004 | Prize for best thesis project in the BSc in Rural Development and Environmental Science awarded by Zamorano University.
  • 2001-04 | Scholarship covering the 4-year BSc program awarded by Zamorano University.


  • Devisscher T, Malhi Y, Rojas Landívar VD, Oliveras I (2016). Understanding ecological transitions under recurrent wildfire: A case study in the seasonally dry tropical forests of the Chiquitania, Bolivia. Forest Ecology and Management. 360: 273–286.
  • Devisscher T, Anderson LO, Aragăo LEOC, Galván L, Malhi Y (2016). Increased wildfire risk driven by climate and development interactions in Bolivian Chiquitania, southern Amazonia. PLoS ONE. 11(9): 1-29.
  • Devisscher T, Boyd E, Malhi Y (2016). Anticipating future risk in social-ecological systems using fuzzy cognitive mapping: the case of wildfire in the Chiquitania, Bolivia. Ecology and Society. 21(4): 1-28.
  • Devisscher T, Malhi M, Boyd E (2016). Deliberation for anticipation: conflicting views of wildfire risk in Chiquitania, Bolivia. Journal of Human Ecology (In review).
  • Devisscher T, Vignola R, Coll Besa M, et al. (2016). Understanding the socio-institutional context to support adaptation for future water security in forest landscapes. Ecology and Society (In press).